Science & Nature

Oct 3, 2018

SPROUT PENCIL

What happens with a wood pencil after being used? Usually, we throw it to the trash. But, what if it was possible to increase its lifetime, even after there is nothing more left that allows to be used?

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It is what the Danish company Sprout World dedicated to do with their pencil, that allows irt to be planted after being used, giving way to one of the possible plants at choice.

"It's 15 billion pencils produced each year, and three million of them only in the United States. It's many pieces of pencil discarded in the end of their lives", says Michael Stausholm, CEO of Sprout World. The company, Denmark based, wants to shorten that waste. This startup produces pencils that can be planted and then turn into vegetables, weeds or flower plants after they've been used.

Stausholm stated that the pencils, made with cedar in Pine City, Minnesota, United States, are the perfect sustainable product because "a product that is dying, is literally giving life to a new product". In the place where usually there is a rubber, in the opposite edge of the charcoal end, these wood pencils have a capsule made with biodegradable material which contains a small mixture of seeds and turf.

After the usable lifetime of the pencil, it is possible to plant the capsule in a small vase and use the pencil's edge as a marker. The capsule is then dissolved and the seeds grow, giving place to a plant. The pencil come in 14 varieties which include tomato, lavender, basil, sunflower and green pepper.

The pencils were developed by three MIT students in 2012. "By that time, I was living in Denmark and worked a lot with sustainable companies" (…) "But sustainability is hard to explain for the consumers. I was looking for a product that could easily do that". One year later, he found Sprout Pencil when it was nothing but a campaign on Kickstarter.

"I loved the idea. It was the perfect way of explaining what sustainability is", said Stausholm.

Staushom has partnered with the students and convinced them to let him sell the pencils in Denmark. "We sold 70 thousand pencils in the Spring of 2013. We realized that there was definitely a demand for them", he stated.

In 2014, the startup had sold a million pencils throughout Europe.

Later that year, Stausholm acquired the patents and rights of the brand and became CEO of Sprout World. He also admitted Sprout World now sells an average 450.000 pencils each month and registered more than three million dollars in revenues.

The next step would be to conquer the American market. Stausholm opened a small office in Boston to seize the moment. In it work two employees along with 15 more in Europe. "America is a couple of years behind Europe in terms of embracing eco-friendship". But, he thinks it is the perfect market for Sprout World pencils because its creators and manufacturers are USA based. The pencils are sold in Amazon and Whole Foods stores.

Stausholm is also focused in price reduction. Ultimately, he wants all students around the world to use Sprout World pencils.

The startup company is aiming to launch new products, including palnt enable credit cards and colored pencils. "We know we can't save the planet with only our products" (…) "Our missionis, at least, to educate people over getting to be more conscious about what they buy and the search for reusable products".

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